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How Can Wellness Programs Aid in the Early Detection of Breast Cancer?

Women represent 47% of the U.S. workforce—and unfortunately, around 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer in their lifetime. 

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, now is an opportune time to strengthen wellness programming for employees by boosting engagement of basic screening benefits, spreading awareness around breast health, and supporting patients and survivors in the workplace.

Leveraging wellness programming in cancer prevention, screening, and treatment not only has the potential to save an employee’s life—it also furthers organizational outcomes by boosting engagement, productivity, and retention rates.

But what part do employers play in spreading awareness about breast cancer, and how can a wellness platform aid in early prevention and detection?

 

Understanding Breast Cancer Signs, Symptoms, and Risk Factors

In addition to offering easily accessible and personalized health benefits through a holistic wellness platform, organizations can also regularly circulate information about signs, symptoms, and risk factors. 

By gaining this crucial understanding before implementing initiatives, employers can supplement benefits programs with informed, proactive resources that empower employee wellbeing and spread greater awareness throughout the workplace.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Symptoms: What Employees Should Know

When educating workforces on the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer, it’s important to understand that the risk for developing breast cancer can change over time due to a wide range of factors, including:

  • Being assigned female at birth
  • Age
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Inherited genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • Previous breast cancer diagnosis 

Many employees may also be unaware that certain lifestyle factors can lead to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. These lifestyle factors can include:

  • Never having been pregnant
  • Giving birth for the first time after the age of 30
  • Smoking and/or drinking

In addition to sharing information on risk factors, employers can also provide detailed resources listing specific physical symptoms to be aware of in the early detection of breast cancer. While lumps in breast tissue are some of the most common signs, there are many other symptoms that often go undetected, including:

  • Swelling without a defined lump
  • Consistent pain or skin irritation
  • Changes in size or shape of the breast or nipple
  • Changes in skin texture or color such as redness or dimpling
  • Nipples turning inward or producing discharge
  • Peeling, scaly, or flaky skin

How a Wellness Program Can Incentivize Early Breast Cancer Detection

Encouraging employees to pay attention to signs and symptoms is crucial for their wellbeing, but it doesn’t always guarantee that early breast cancer detection and intervention will be successful. 

One of the most proactive ways to ensure employees can easily access information on breast cancer risk factors, signs, and symptoms is by integrating all resources, pamphlets, health forms, and benefits communications in one centralized wellness platform. Not only can employees be rewarded through the platform for taking preventive action and prioritizing their wellbeing, but they also have on-demand access to whatever resources they need to stay healthy, happy, and informed. 

But how can employers ensure that employees are actually using these integrated resources? A great place to start is by incentivizing preventive care tasks. Coupling critical exams, vaccinations, and other healthy habits with personalized rewards makes early prevention and detection fun and engaging for employees, rather than a chore. 

Here are some examples of breast cancer care tasks that can be incentivized through an employee wellness platform:

Clinical or Self-Led Breast Exams

According to the American Cancer Association, research doesn't correlate direct benefits to physical breast examinations. Instead, most individuals often report feeling changes or symptoms during everyday life activities, such as bathing or dressing.

However, that doesn’t mean these exams should never be done, especially for individuals at higher-than-average risk. Regularly tracking clinical or self breast exams—either during Breast Cancer Awareness Month or any month throughout the year—through a wellness platform will keep prevention top of mind for employees when other screening methods may not be available right away.

Mammograms

While mammograms aren’t always 100% accurate, they’re often used in conjunction with other imaging or screening methods, such as a breast ultrasound, to help identify and diagnose breast cancer early on—potentially years before physical symptoms manifest. 

In addition to matching scheduled mammograms to points and rewards through an employee wellness platform, many organizations go the extra mile to make routine screenings as accessible, affordable, and accommodating as possible. For example, hiring a mobile mammogram truck is one way to ensure employees safely receive the benefits of breast healthcare wherever they are, whether at work, at home, or in their own communities. 

Breast MRIs and Cancer Treatment

To support and engage employees who are diagnosed with breast cancer and regularly receive treatment, employers can grant incentives, paid time off, and additional accommodations for MRIs or follow-up procedures. Ensuring that paid leave for these tests is not deducted from other sick or vacation time is crucial in ensuring employees can freely and proactively put their wellbeing first with full backing from their organizations.

Beyond addressing the physical wellbeing of employees who receive a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s also vital for employers to address the mental/emotional, social, financial, occupational, and purpose-driven impacts. Breast cancer affects the total wellbeing of an individual, which is why easily accessible mental health support, financial education and resources, and peer-to-peer support groups are crucial when caring for your employees.

Putting Early Detection First Through a Holistic Wellness Platform

Employers have a responsibility to empower their employees’ health and wellbeing, especially when it comes to early detection of breast cancer. However, getting employees to engage in workplace wellness initiatives isn’t always easy. 

That’s where a personalized wellness platform comes in. To learn more about how to incorporate breast cancer awareness and detection into your corporate wellness program, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at WellRight.

 

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